… is one of the most powerful sentences ever.
Union organizers use it all the time. Your working conditions, your exploitative pay, your threatening manager, your unfair shift schedule. Collective action and collective bargaining works. The structures that are holding folks back can be changed. And, in fact, we have a long history of winning. It doesn’t have to be this way. (h/t to #FairWorkWeekPHL for proving this adage right (again) this week)
That’s also how I feel about bad data! Sloppy spreadsheets. Duplicate contacts. Hours upon hours of manual editing and re-typing. Spreadsheets out of sync with your database system. Untrustworthy data about donor history or retention. Wanting to smash your computer to smithereens. #ItDoesntHaveToBeThisWay
Today I want to highlight a super energizing conversation I had with my old friend and co-conspirator Jenna from AORTA. We put our heads together to dream big about powerful social movement organizations and transcending our own (limiting) beliefs about technology and entrepreneurship. There’s two themes I want to share with you.
We gotta talk about fostering resilience when technological problems come up – because they inevitably will – from a gmail rebrand to a database error to re-setting your wifi router. I’m sure many of us can relate to those cringe-worthy scenarios and how they can feel like major setbacks. On top of being hella annoying, they can also trigger impostor syndrome, “scarcity rage” (ahhhh! NOT ENOUGH TIME TO DEAL WITH THIS SHIT!), and plain-vanilla self doubt (“I’m a failure!”). No repetition is too many to counteract this stuff, so say it with me: you DO belong in this work; you CAN deal with this setback; and you AREN’T a failure!
What does resilience actually look like? I think it can look a lot of ways! For example, asking for advice, doing research, taking a break, identifying a workaround, and not blaming yourself for the problem (cuz guess what, we all face these problems and you didn’t do anything wrong!). Laughter is a form of reSILLYence, too! Resilience can even look like admitting that you’re stuck and moving on, with a plan to come back to it when you have the bandwidth. Perhaps most of all, technology resilience for changemakers looks like treating problem solving as movement building instead of a distraction from it. Do you think this perspective shift is possible?
What if the next time you hit a spreadsheet obstacle, you told yourself…
Leading by imagination
I bet you’ve heard of leading by example, but what about leading by imagination? The deeper I get into blogging (and a little bit of consulting), the more I’m seeing evidence of just how powerful imagination can be, especially naming the fact that #ItDoesntHaveToBeThisWay. Today I challenged myself to take this concept one step further and ask “What becomes possible when spreadsheets *stop* holding us back?” I decided to answer my own question with a lil graphic, thanks to art by Katie Blanchard and the team over at Bloom & Glory.
I’m realizing more and more that blogging here is a big piece of my commitment to my own imagination and resilience. I feel tremendous meaning in my work, even if I’m doing repetitive data clean up tasks, or I get stuck, or I stay at work until 6 on a Friday during Chanukah. How? Because I created an outlet for myself where I can reflect on why data work is an important part of movement building. Maybe this started out as an elaborate justification for myself (hehe) but now it’s become so much more. This blog means a lot to me, and I know it means a lot to many of you. Thanks for sticking with it and for the data and movement work YOU are doing. I know it can feel lonely, or scary, or impossible at times. We need each other and we’ve got each others’ backs. <3